Most of the people I work with seem to simplify things way too much. AIG and the bonus scandal seems to be the topic of choice when I wrote this anyway, and they are absolutely furious about it. I feel as if I am one of the few who is not really upset at all about the executives getting these bonuses. Here is why.
Reason One - As it has been mentioned before, these bonuses were written in contracts. If we start getting upset when someone has a poor season and still gets their agreed upon contract money, then we need to have a serious look at the sports industry. I can think of a particular quarterback who got trounced in the Superbowl this year but will probably still get a seven-figure bonus. Also, these bonuses are undoubtedly for the 2008 fiscal year, which wasn't nearly as bad as the 2009 fiscal year has been. There are lots of businesses, mine included, that made money in 2008 when all quarters were averaged.
Reason Two - There were $165 million paid in bonuses. This is one tenth of one percent or 0.1% of the total $152 billion that we taxpayers have given to that company. Spending so much time getting ulcers over such an insignificant amount of money compared to the whole simply isn't worth it. I would much rather spend my time and effort finding out what AIG did with the other 99.9% of the money we gave them.
Reason Three - Our government in all its wisdom has chosen to retaliate these bonus give out by writing a law that will tax these bonuses by 90%. A collective cheer went through most of the people I work with but to me this scares the heck out of me. There were only 168 people at AIG that got bonuses and prompted this legislation. Only 47% or 79 of those people actually live in this country where they can be taxes. Our government is choosing to write a law targeting these 79 people or 0.00002% of our population in retribution. They are supposed to govern the masses, not the specifics. So if I were in the Male Engineers That Grew Up In Iowaville Society, I would be worried. I could be next. This is a horrible precedent to set.
Reason Four - Why don't we place blame where blame should be placed. How about we blame the 535 people who voted to give $456 from every man, woman and child here in this country to a company that largely does business outside of the United States and didn't even give them a single restriction on how to use it. These individuals should be drug out of the back of the building, tarred and feathered and told never to come back. This should have been done long before AIG was even a common word on the news but that is another argument for another day.
Weak Reason Five - I have to set goals in my job and I get rewarded if I meet them. As an employee, I try to make them as easy to accomplish as possible because hey, who wants to set impossible goals. My boss however, he wants to make them as hard as possible so that he has more things done at the end of the year. So why do we blame someone who worded their contract such that they get a bonus even if their employer goes in the tank. Heck those guys are geniuses and I wish some of them would give me pointers when it comes time to write my goals for next year. They are doing what human nature says to do.
We have focused for two weeks now on extracting vengeance and every single drop of blood we can out of 79 people, many who have now returned their bonuses. If I added up all the wasted "on-the-clock" time of our Congress, journalists and average people fuming at the water cooler or for that matter, writing blogs on the subject, we would have more than paid off those bonuses hundreds of times over. So to summarize for those still hot under the collar about the AIG bonus scandal… get over it.